As if true love wasn't already hard to define, self-love can feel like a far trickier concept to get our heads around, not least because showing love to one's self can seem indulgent at best, deluded at worst.
It goes beyond cliché here, but in order to truly love others, we simply must practice self-love - and this in its purest form means prioritising the self.
As not to confuse self-love with arrogance or self-absorption, here are five ways to show appreciation and tenderness toward number one:
1. Make time for me-time
Modern life, no matter what the particular circumstances, is manic. We are all so busy being busy, doing and being for others, that time to set aside for ourselves is elusive. The problem with this is, without time to be alone and to reflect, we are literally being pulled in a thousand different directions, like some sort of tear 'n' share.
If all we do is drain our flames with the concerns of everyone else, then all that is left are some ashy embers and jagged coals. Anger and resentment enjoy these conditions, and we can't love others with such feelings. We just want to run, escape, blame and punish, often passive-aggressively, because we begrudge everything.
However, stoking up the inner flame with self-love, in the form of me-time, will make the fire burn with contentment and there'll be plenty of warmth for everybody.
2. Be gentle on imperfections
There are various theories floating about that when we judge others for their imperfections, all we are doing is highlighting discomfort with our own flaws.
Making time for self-reflection is often why we're happy to stay busy, because we don't have to think about this tough stuff. However, refusing to do this sort of soul-searching can have detrimental effects on others. Mainly because if we hold ourselves, and the people around us, to such high standards, then we are always either feeling like we've been let down or we end up shameful and guilty because we didn't do something the right way.
Give yourself and those that you love a break. There really is no such thing as perfect. When we sit back and take stock, we can see the trigger points (that we all have) to the negative characteristics (that we also all have) and we can be mindful and deliberate about how to minimise them.
3. Have a gratitude attitude
Although the ability to see this depends entirely on our circumstances, there really is always something to be grateful for. Even if all we've done that day is acknowledge one thing that we have in our lives to be grateful for. Showing gratitude is a form of self-love because you are trying to see a positive. It's like being your own true friend; when the chips are down you'll be there, holding your own hand and softly pointing out the silver lining. Then, when the sun is pouring down you'll also be there, fully with yourself, dancing naked and feeling each sweet blessing.
4. Let it go and forgive
It is time to leave the past to the past and move on. While you're holding on to it, it's literally cutting your hands to shreds, and there's always a crimson mess to clean up. How can you hold anyone else's heart, when you're hands are too sore to hold your own?
You simply must. Stop it right now. Stop analysing it. Stop trying to figure it out or justify it. Let. It. Go.
It's a continual process. Self-love is about allowing yourself to make mistakes, but not letting them define you.
5. Nourish the body and mind
If you think you're not worthy of happiness, health and wellbeing then you might choose to eat junk food all the time, misuse substances, take very little exercise, stay in abusive relationships and not bother to engage your brain in the way it deserves. In short, you will become a mess and useless to anybody.
We are always worthy of good things and therefore we must look after ourselves properly. If we don't invest in ourselves, then nobody else will. Worse, we leave the ones that love us feeling responsible as they try to mend our broken pieces.
So, this Valentine's Day, let's show others the true meaning of love by cherishing our wonderfully imperfect selves. Then they, in turn, will feel cherished for who they are, warts and all.
Now, if that isn't the gift of love, then I don't know what is.